10 May 2023

Crocodile clickbait slammed by Cape York business owner

| Samuel Davis
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THE survivor of a recent crocodile encounter in Cape York has blasted the publisher of a “dangerous” video that shows the apex predator being fed out of the side of a boat.

In a 12-second clip posted to Facebook, a saltwater croc snatches a fish tossed at its snout by fishermen as the vessel nears a muddy mangrove.

The large reptile then scurries into deeper water as two men cackle in the background.

The recording has garnered thousands of views and interactions online.

But it’s also received several stinging rebukes from social media users concerned the interaction could change the reptile’s behaviour.

“Not good mate. This s**t is why they keep coming up to boats and can cause issues,” one man said.

Another wrote: “That thing is big enough to jump in your boat … imagine a child being taken.”

The Department of Environment and Science has confirmed wildlife officers are investigating the video to determine the location and date it was filmed.

Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, it is illegal to feed crocodiles in Queensland without permission and carries a fine of more than $5000.

Jayson Watkin, right, has experienced enough croc encounters to last a lifetime.

Last year Portland Roads resident Jayson Watkin came to the rescue of two soldiers who survived being death-rolled by a 2.5 metre crocodile.

The business owner said filming wild crocs made for frightening clickbait.

“I love adventure as much as anyone but it’s risk versus reward,” he said.

“They’re not scared of anyone.

“Any interaction with a croc is taking your life in your own hands.

“Then, once you expose it to social media you’re showing it to an entire legion of idiots who may do something worse.

“That’s when it becomes dangerous. So, maybe don’t post it on social media.”

Charles Darwin University’s Professor Grahame Webb said approaching the amphibious beasts in the wild is a mistake.

“As tempting as it is, it’s not a good idea,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be encouraged because they may associate being fed with the next guy that comes along.

“The cold hard reality is they may become inquisitive about the boat you’re in or where you’re standing if you’re on the bank.

“You’re not going to have crocs trampling through the bush and tearing people apart coming out of school buses.

“But it’s just not a good idea to get too close to these animals.”

Mr Watkin said he was “lucky to walk away” following a recent run-in with a “saltie” while tying up his boat.

“I was in belly button deep water when I got this sick feeling that something was off,” he said.

“I started rushing to the boat for some reason and got straight in. Our friends were watching me from the deck.

“It was only when I got back they told me ‘You were about 10 metres away from a four-and-a-half metre crocodile.’

“That was about two weeks ago and I realised how complacent I’d gotten.

“There’s been a resurgence of incidents that make you think ‘Holy s**t. We need to treat these things with more respect.”

It’s estimated there are up to 30,000 crocodiles in Queensland waters.

Since 1975 there have been 46 reported estuarine crocodile attacks in the state.

Sixteen have been fatal.

Anyone with information about the video is urged to contact DES on 1300 130 372.

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